I began working in my father’s construction business when I was very young. In my elementary years, my job was to clean up the site. Every day after school, I would walk to whatever house my father’s crew was building, and Dad’s instructions were always the same: “Clean it up, John. Everything that isn’t growing goes in the trash.” Then in my high school years, I advanced to being an actual part of the building process.
The day I turned 16, I went to the county courthouse and got my driver’s license. When I returned to the job site, Dad handed me the keys to one of the company trucks. He gave me a promotion, and I became the company “gofer.” From then on, whenever a job site needed material, I was sent to get it so that construction didn’t stop.
My first run was to the big plumbing supply company 30 miles away. Dad handed me a stick of two-by-four lumber with a long list of plumbing supplies and told me the job to take it to. I had been to this supply house with Dad many times. I usually looked around in the showroom while he did the ordering. This was the first time I’d ever gone alone, and I was more than a bit nervous as I walked up and laid the two-by-four on the counter.
To my amazement, the man behind the counter said “Good afternoon, Mr. Martin, how can I help you?”
I was used to being called John and told how I needed to help others, not having others ask how they could help me. I replied, “I need to pick up this list of plumbing supplies for Richard Martin.”
The man behind the counter smiled at me and said “Just pull your truck around through gate two, and we’ll have the men load it for you.” Again I was surprised! No one had ever loaded a truck for me before. I was the guy who loaded everyone else’s truck!
But it happened just like that! In no time at all, I was on the road, headed to a job site with several thousand dollars’ worth of plumbing supplies in the back of my truck.
Later that day, as I drove home, I thought about what happened. How was it that a 16-year-old kid could just walk in and get thousands of dollars of material and drive off? If I could do it, why couldn’t every other 16-year-old do it and then sell it for spending money? As I thought about that experience, I began remembering what I had learned in church about Jesus and the judgment.
From reading my Bible and attending Bible classes, I knew that there’s coming a judgment day when every person will be judged according to their works— both good and bad (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14). I’d learned that when we accept Jesus, He forgives all our sins and adopts us as His children. Then, in the judgment, He’ll reveal to the universe why He’s accepted us as His children and guaranteed us a place in heaven—or, in some cases, why He hasn’t. When the universe looks at us through what’s written in heaven’s books of record and sees that we are indeed Jesus’ children, they will praise Him and welcome us to heaven and eternity.
I realized that the man behind the counter didn’t do business with me because of who I was. He did business with me because of who my father was. When I walked up to that counter and he looked at me,
- he’d seen me with my dad many times;
- I was wearing the same kind of clothes that my dad wore;
- when he offered me coffee, I politely declined, just as my dad had;
- when I laid my list on the counter, it was on a two-by-four board just as my dad’s always was;
- when he looked at the writing, he saw that it was my dad’s writing;
- he saw me get out of my dad’s company truck; and
- when he looked at what I was buying, it was the kind of things he knew my dad always needed.
So when I walked up to the counter and asked to get those materials, the man looked at me, and what he saw proved to him that I was Richard Martin’s son, and when I got the loading ticket, I read at the bottom, “Picked up by Richard’s son.”
So it will be in the judgment. Jesus has told the universe that He has children on this earth and will bring them home. When Jesus presents our cases in the judgment (Daniel 7:9, 10), the angels will see that we
- act like Jesus,
- treat others like Jesus,
- like the things Jesus likes,
- hate the things Jesus hates,
- are involved in Jesus’ work—and
- we even dress the way Jesus would dress.
The angels, like the man behind the counter, see us as Jesus’ children, and they’re happy to welcome us to their heavenly business.
Another incident in my youth drove this lesson home in my mind. I have a brother who, as a teenager, rejected Dad’s Christian values and moved out on his own. My brother was a good young man by the world’s standards. He was respected in the community as a man in his own right. But everyone knew that he was not a part of my father’s company and that my father didn’t approve of his worldly values.
All three of us banked at the same small-town bank. In those days, “bank by mail” was very popular. I personally only went into that bank once. For many years, I did all my banking by mail or by phone. While in college, I wanted to buy a new car, so I called the bank and told them I had written a check for a new car and asked them to cover it by filling out the loan papers for that amount and sending them to me to sign. (This was a long time ago at a small-town bank, and readers of this magazine may find that process unbelievable, but it really happened back then.)
In a few days, I received the loan papers and a personal note from the bank president congratulating me on my new car. I learned later that the president had called my dad, and after telling him of my call, he asked, “Is this the son that works with you or your other son?” When Dad affirmed that I was the son who worked with him, the banker replied, “I just needed to be sure this was the son you’ll guarantee.”
So it will be in the judgment. All humans are Jesus’ children; but not all of us choose to live by Jesus’ principles and His laws. In the judgment, Jesus can only guarantee to the universe His children who have chosen to live by His laws and who, when the universe looks at them, will recognize that they are His children whom He can guarantee will remain faithful to Him and His laws throughout eternity.
How about you? Which kind of son or daughter of Jesus are you? Have you confessed your sins and asked Him to forgive them? Are you choosing each day, with His help, to live out His life in your life? If you can answer yes to these questions, then in the judgment, Jesus will open heaven’s record books and show the angels the evidence that you truly are a person who can be trusted to remain faithful to Him and His laws throughout eternity.
John Martin writes from Littleton, Colorado, USA.